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was also foretold expressly by Isaiah what his sufferings should be, and the benefits accruing from them.
Now, if we compare the oracle with the event, who can justly doubt that the Messiah is come? But if we consider the things themselves, they afford an uncontrollable testimony of Christ's divine mission. Compare the primitive church, either with the Jews or the Gentiles, and see the difference between them. The Spirit, that was communicated but as it were in a few drops to the Jews, after the ascension of Christ, fell in a main shower upon the Christian church, enriching them with supernatural gifts: some favoured with revelations of sublime truths, above the discovery of the human understanding; some foretelling things to come, that were beyond the discovery of the most sharp-sighted reason; some speaking divers languages, wherein they had never been instructed; some having such an extraordinary faith in the divine power and goodness, that innumerable miracles were done by them in the name of Christ. If we look into the state of the Gentiles, how thick and prodigious was the darkness that overspread that chaos of impiety! In the Roman empire, that comprised the flower of wit and learning, what foolish and extravagant opinions of the Deity were commonly received ! What idolatries, what impurities, what abominations were freely practised ! But by the preaching of the Gospel, how clearly were the minds of men instructed in the true knowledge of God! And what a change was made in their lives! The world, that was as a barren desert, was suddenly changed into a paradise, fruitful in all good
works. Innocence, humility, purity, justice, charity, love to God, resignation to his will, were eminently visible in all nations, and all sorts of persons that were converted to the faith of Christ. Now, who caused such a marvellous and holy revolution in the world but God? What less than a divine power could raise men above sense, and make them victorious over the lusts of corrupt nature, fortified by custom, a second nature ?
Is it conceivable, supposing the doctrine of Christ were not from heaven, that it should produce such admirable effects? And is it conceivable that God would adorn, with all his graces, the image of his own excellency, his most precious benefits, those who did not honour him according to his will? Can there be found such astonishing contrarieties joined together, as the most impious error and depravation of the mind, with the greatest purity and rectitude of the will and affections? For if Jesus Christ were not the Son of God, those who worshipped him were in a mortal delusion.
The third testimony the Apostle produces, is the blood: that is, peace with God and conscience, the blessed fruit of justification by faith in the blood of Christ. The heathen world was in a dark state of fears, or slept securely in the shadow of death. Some were in a hectic trembling, continually haunted with the apparition of their sins, as so many infernal furies: others, though guilty of most fearful crimes, were secure from stupid atheism : others were quiet, from a presumption cherished by opinions unworthy of God, as if he would neglect his own glory to show
Now the Gospel, to conquer the fears of sensible afflicted sinners, and to establish a
mercy to them.
lively hope in God's mercy, reveals that the Son of God became man, and offered up his life and blood to divine justice, as an expiatory sacrifice for the sins of men. This reconciled God, whose honour was abundantly secured by that satisfaction. This appeased all the unquiet agitations of the spirits of believers, and produced the “
understanding,” a joy unspeakable and glorious. This delivered them from the fear of death, under which the world was so long in bondage. And it is worthy observing, that no principles of nature ever produced such a generous contempt of death, as the Christian religion did in the professors of it.
The Alexanders, Scipios, and Cesars, had trembled at the sight of those savage beasts that were let loose
upon the martyrs, at the preparations of cruelty to torment them. Whereas, they regarded them with tranquillity, nay, with joy, as the matter of their triumph. This was true valour indeed, for the confession of the most important truth, and superior to the courage of those who were called the most renowned soldiers. For in a battle, by martial sounds, by violent motions, the spirits are fired, and men scarce feel their wounds, and are inconsiderate of their danger. But the martyrs had nothing to heighten their courage, but in cool blood, deliberately and without alteration, encountered that terrible enemy. Besides, soldiers in the sharpest conflicts have some hopes of victory. But the more than heroic constancy of the martyrs contemned death in its nearest approaches, and most fearful pomp.
Now this unshaken resolution in Christians encountering the last enemy, was from the lively sense of God's favour, reconciled by the most pure and precious blood of his Son, and the hopes of everlasting happiness in his presence.
To conclude this argument, it is to be observed, that there is no proof more proper that Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of the world, than the joint testimony of the spirit, water, and blood; for whereas sin was the only cause of our ruin, the office of our Saviour is to repair that ruin, and consequently, he that effectually does it, is to be acknowledged, believed, and embraced as our Saviour. Now the worst effects of sin are the ignorance of the mind, the depravation of the affections, and the terrors of conscience from the apprehensions of vengeance. Therefore, since the Gospel of Christ has brought celestial light, purity, and peace into the world, it is an infallible proof that he is the Redeemer of it. The sun, that visits the world with its refreshing beams, has no clearer marks of the divine wisdom in making it, and ordering its motions, than the spiritual light of the Gospel, that irradiates the minds of men, which were before in deep darkness. The riches of the earth in variety of fruits, is not a more convincing argument of the divine goodness, than to see the souls of men, that before were as dead earth, under the curse of heaven, to abound in all the fruits of righteousness. The separating the sea from the land, and setting bounds to its impetuous waves, is not a greater effect of God's power, than the calming the tempests of an unquiet conscience, and establishing tranquillity in it. And these blessings we entirely owe to Jesus Christ, in whose name they are obtained, by whose spirit they are conferred, and for whose glory they are designed.
Now, what more is requisite to afford us satisfaction that Jesus Christ came from God, and revealed his will in order to our happiness? Can it be reasonably expected that new miracles should be wrought to satisfy every sceptic that is still unsatisfied ? Indeed the fountain of them is not dried up, the power of God is not weakened, nor his mercy lessened, but in extraordinary cases, when the Gospel is first preached to a nation, it may be expected, that, to convert them from Gentilism to the Christian faith, he will make himself kuown not only by word, but by power, in supernatural operations. But the vein of miracles is not still current in the church, there being sufficient motives of belief for the conviction of all that are not obstinate, without the performing of new ones.
Must the Son of God present himself to all men in a visible glory ? Or must his divine Father give another majestic testimony from heaven concerning him? If we have not such sensible evidence, we have as sure: the
accomplishment of scripture prophecies is a permanent · miracle, a more certain proof to us than that oracular revelation. For God spake but once in that voice, but he speaks by the prophets to the end of time. That was more astonishing, but less instructive to us than prophecies, that are continually unfolded and verified by events.
Before I finish this argument, I will briefly consider what is objected against some doctrines of the Gospel, namely, the Trinity, the divine incarnation, the mean state and sufferings of the Son of God in the world. These points have been opposed by the Jews, and other infidels, as mere impossibilities, directly contrary to the reason of mankind.